Can we call it a comeback? While sitting in the bottom spot after four legs of the 2023 Major League Show Jumping season, Team KPF has embarked on a comeback in Traverse City, MI. A U.S. trio of Natalie Dean, Kent Farrington and Alison Robitaille made up the winning team in the Premiere Equestrian CSI5* Team Competition on Saturday during The League's mid-season stop at Traverse City Horse Shows.
Robitaille and Ester de Maugre sealed the deal for her formerly unlucky team in the gold-medal jump-off. They topped the Trailblazers’ Darragh Kenny (IRL) aboard Eddy Blue by only six one-hundredths of a second.
Farrington on Creedance and Dean riding Dotcom D’Authuit both pulled rails in the opening round, but returned with the foot speed necessary to send Robitaille to the gold-medal jump-off.
The Trelawny Trailblazers called on Daniel Bluman (ISR) with Gemma W, Conor Swail (IRL) on Casturano and Kenny, who pulled off a hat trick of clears in the second round. But, it wasn't enough. They settled for silver, however, still lead the series standings by a comfortable margin.
Ending the night with bronze, the DIHP Roadrunners took the early lead in the first round. Only a single time fault was accumulated by Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), and was book-ended by double clears from U.S. Olympian McLain Ward, Ireland’s Daniel Coyle. Ward and Coyle went two-for-two in faultless finishes on First Lady and Ivory TCS, respectively, while Sternlicht and Origa added three seconds after a rail fell in the second round to settle for bronze over Eye Candy.
For Major League co-founder Keeann White, the night was sentimental and promised a bright future for The League.
“This venue is where we kicked off Major League Show Jumping in 2021; The American Gold Cup is a very special event and we are very lucky to be a part of it," said White. "It’s something special for the League to be able to come and help make some of these historic shows bigger and better – it’s super rewarding. I’m looking forward to great sport tomorrow, and for the second half of our season.”
The American Gold Cup Team Event marks the half-way point of the Major League season. The one-time transfer window opens at the conclusion of the week when teams will have the opportunity to change up their rosters.
"We're going to have eight to ten new riders coming into the tour for the second half," concluded White. "We'll have some new faces and high-ranked riders, so I think it's going to be super competitive. I think seeing where the teams are today and seeing the lineups they put out there - it's going to be good sport the rest of the year."